Sunday, December 30, 2012

If the United States were a Corporation and Congress its Management Team

If the United States were a Corporation and Congress its Management Team

After watching the reports from CNN today regarding the malfunctioning machine we call Congress and its collective inability to reach a consensus on a plan to avoid the so -called fiscal cliff, I started to wonder how these buffoons would fare if the USA was a private sector corporation with a governing board and stockholders to which they owe a fiduciary duty instead a government institution with elected officials and taxpayers to which Congress owes and breaches its fiduciary duty.

Those who work in the private sector for stock corporations must establish measurable goals for a calendar or fiscal year. At certain times throughout the year, one must report on one’s progress towards reaching those goals and if one is “not on plan”, establish a course of action to get back on plan. Failing to make headway towards achieving one’s goals sometime results in what we in the real world know as “a performance plan”. This requires the collaboration of one’s supervisor or team and the individual to take specific steps to improve one’s performance. Failure to improve often results in termination of employment. In this world, the performance bar is raised every year and in order to meet one’s goals, one must achieve greater proficiency at one’s work every year.  If one achieves one’s goals, and the corporation has earned a profit, there is a potential for a merit raise. This should not be confused with a cost of living adjustment or a salary increase merely to thank one for showing up for work. The increase is based upon achievement. If one does not achieve, there is no increase. If the corporation did not earn a profit, there is no increase.  My ability to increase my earning potential depends upon my own efforts in conjunction with a high performing management team. As such, if my company makes a lot of money and I achieve an increase, the stockholders are paid a dividend, and the CEO and top executives who made that possible deserve big bucks.

If the USA were a corporation the stockholders would receive no dividends and the management team, Congress, would deserve no remuneration.  It is clear this Congress has not achieved any goals. Its scorecard would be blank. And a corporation would not put Congress on a performance plan for more than 500 days. Pretty much it is 90 days and out. Congress has had more than 500 days to put together plan to avoid the fiscal cliff and has failed. If the USA were a corporation, its stock would have plunged lower than Enron’s after the debacle; it’s ability to borrow money faster than Bernie Madoff; it’s reputation faster than Lance Armstrong’s.  And every member of Congress would have been unceremoniously fired. In the private sector there is no room for prima donnas (unless they own the company), making excuses, or blaming others. If we need to get something done, teams figure out how to get it done. Sometimes that means rescheduling a vacation, making significant compromises, and keeping the focus on the customer.  Congress has forgotten that we, the tax paying public, are the customers and the stockholders. And Congress has breached it fiduciary duty to us all.  In the private sector, they would not be reelected; they would not keep their jobs; they would be sued by the stockholders and, in some cases, prosecuted for malfeasance.

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